ST. CROIX - Residents in the territory paused on Monday to pay tribute to former Gov. Cyril King on the 93rd anniversary of his birth and to reflect on the political party to which he founded.
About 30 students from Ricardo Richards Elementary School, along with 20 other individuals representing the Independent Citizen's Movement and some of King's friends and family, gathered for a ceremony at Kingshill Cemetery Chapel. The service was followed by a procession to King's mausoleum, where more words were spoken of King's legacy, personality and political beliefs.
Inside the mausoleum, children sang the "Happy Birthday Song" for the late governor and with the help of family members, placed wreaths on his tomb.
The speakers at the event all reflected on King as a man who was charismatic and caring and who believed in accountability in government. Sen. Terrance Nelson, whose office has organized the event for several years, said King was a man who advocated for service to the community.
King was a man of service, he did not even complete his term, but the work that he did for the people of this territory was enough in that short time that he was heaped with praise and is still being recognized, Nelson said.
King was the second elected governor of the territory. He was born on St. Croix on April 7, 1921, received his early education at St. Ann's Catholic School and graduated from St. Mary's Catholic School in Christiansted. He was a U.S. Army sergeant and the first black person to serve on the staff of a U.S. senator.
King was appointed by President John F. Kennedy to serve as government secretary of the Virgin Islands and later was elected senator from the St. Thomas-St. John District.
He is considered a political stalwart and a community activist who served as a champion of the rights of people in the territory.
King received numerous accolades for his outstanding community service, including commander first class of the Order of the Danneborg and the Silver Bronze Cross by Queen Margaret of Denmark.
The airport on St. Thomas is named in King's honor.